In November 2015, Shirley Whitenack led a delegation of twelve Elder Law Attorneys to Ireland to engage in professional exchanges. Shirley has been a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) since 1995. She is a NAELA Fellow, a CAP member and is a member of various other NAELA committees. In addition to her various trustee and member appointments, she is also an adjunct professor at Stetson University College of Law where she teaches elder law litigation to J.D. and LL.M. candidates.
The NAELA delegation to Ireland strove to answer the following questions:
- How does Ireland approach the care for the elderly? From a social/family perspective? From a government perspective?
- Is care provided through institutions? Community-based care? A combination of options? Are there assisted living facilities? Home care agencies? Nursing homes? If so, how does the system work together?
- What are some of the primary issues that arise regularly for the elderly? How are these issues dealt with?
- Are there government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, established in Ireland?
- What’s the cultural philosophy around caring for the elderly?
- What are some of the primary challenges faced with a growing elderly population?
- What legal concepts are regularly applied to the elderly and people with special needs? Does Ireland use durable powers of attorney? Advance health care directives? Guardianship?
After a brief overview of Ireland’s legal system, delegates participated in a variety of professional exchanges to answer the questions mentioned above. These exchanges included a meeting with the members of Age Action in Galway, a meeting with staff at Barchester Healthcare including a facility tour, a visit to the Guinness Medical Center, and a presentation on Ireland’s National Positive Ageing Strategy. While in Dublin, delegates met with the members of the Solicitors for the Elderly and the Honorable Mr. Justice Garald Hogan, Judge of the Court of Appeals, to tour the Four Courts and speak with Gerard F. Whyte, Barrister-at-Law and Associate Professor at Trinity’s law school.
Along with meetings, site visits, and professional exchanges, delegates had the opportunity to experience the beauty of Ireland. Tours of local attractions, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, an in-depth tour of Dublin, and a hefty amount of local beer were dispersed between professional meetings.
While exchanging ideas with overseas counterparts is the main goal of each delegation, NAELA delegates felt that “being with other NAELA members, sharing ideas, and getting to know them better” was a very valuable outcome of the program. Professionals Abroad is looking forward to having the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys lead their next delegation to the Netherlands in November 2016. For more information, please visit www.professionalsabroad.org or call 1-877-298-9677.